MANILA- President Rodrigo Duterte was just "expressing an idea" when he said that he might one day change the name of the Philippines to "Maharlika," his spokesperson said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte finds the word Maharlika pleasant to one's ear.
"He is expressing an idea again as usual," Panelo told reporters during a press briefing. "Sa tingin ko kay Presidente, maganda pakinggan ang Maharlika."
(I think for the President, Maharlika is nice to hear.)
Duterte on Monday said it might be better for the Philippines to change its name to something that is better suited for its “Malay” identity.
“The Philippines was discovered by Magellan using the money of King Philip… Okay na iyan. Balang araw palitan natin. Actually tama si Marcos… gusto niyang palitan - Maharlika (That's ok. Let's change it one day. Actually, Marcos is right that he wants to change it to Maharlika,” Duterte said in a speech during the distribution of certificates of land ownership award in Maguindanao.
The term "Maharlika" is often associated with the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, when he faked his military records during World War II, according to American Army investigators.
Marcos had claimed to have commanded a group of guerrillas known as the "Maharlika Unit" but investigators have concluded that "no such unit ever existed."
Panelo said Duterte's sentiments, however, have more to do with
"asserting our national identity" than with the late dictator.
The Philippines was named after Spain's King Philip II in the 16th century, when the country was still a Spanish colony.
Spanish explorer Ruy Lopez de Villalobos was the one who gave the name “Las Islas Filipinas” to the archipelago.
Changing the country's name to "Maharlika" was first proposed by former Sen. Eddie Ilarde through Parliamentary Bill 195 in 1978.